Can Tofu Prevent Heart Disease? FDA isn’t So Sure Anymore

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You may want to put the tofu down, at least if you’re hoping it will help keep your heart healthy. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration released a proposal that questions the link between soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease.

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The connection is one of 12 such “authorized health claims” the FDA allows on food packaging and advertising. Each one has been approved based on scientific research. But, in a statement released by the agency’s director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Susan Mayne, the evidence of soy’s benefit to the heart may not be strong enough to make the cut.

“For the first time, we have considered it necessary to propose a rule to revoke a health claim because numerous studies published since the claim was authorized in 1999 have presented inconsistent findings on the relationship between soy protein and heart disease,” Mayne wrote in the statement.

If the proposal goes through, the statement would be downgraded to a “qualified health claim,” meaning that food companies would need to use language that indicates evidence is limited to support soy’s heart benefits. The ruling will undergo a 75-day comment period before a final decision is made.

Still safe on the “authorized health claim” list are 11 other evidence-backed statements. They include: calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and diets low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer.

You can read the rest of the FDA’s statement on soy here.